Well, this week was probably my hardest week yet out here on a mission. I guess no one better to tell than my family...
Wow, this week was like a roller coaster. I learned so much, about contacting, Taiwan, myself, and the Savior. Not gonna lie, this week was hard. But so much fun too!! The "Tsunami" experience was amazing. Heading down to Taidong with 27 other missionaries with the sole purpose of finding new investigators and setting up potentials... and it is so pretty down there! And I was reminded that I'm living on an island! (I saw the ocean... good reminder.) I think it also helped me put things into perspective, that this work is huge and is so much more than me and my companion in DaTong District. I was companions with sister Lee (my "grandma") and it was different but fun. I learned more phrases and methods of contacting, but Taidong contacting is so different from Taibei. In the small town, people will talk to you, no one is heading anywhere too fast, and there are a lot of dogs. (I didn't like that part... I think that those houses or streets with dogs, I'll just give them more time to prepare for the gospel, or another, less scared missionary...). It was miracles everyday! So many people were willing to set up and pray with us, and I found the fun again in contacting. It made coming back to Taipei a little hard, but we're doing okay. It's just so different. Here people are going somewhere are rarely want to stop and talk, especially about religion. But I've loved realizing most Christians will at least pray with us :) Miracles of safety and health can be reported this week! We literally were just finding and contacting for 8 or 9 hours everyday (Tuesday-Friday). So crazy long, but so fast!
Successes: I felt successful after the "tsunami". I'm excited for all the people they met down there! Phase 2 is going well, and proving quite useful! Also, prayer works.
This week I started feeling kind of discouraged, and almost hopeless, not pertaining to the work, which I saw progressing so much, but to myself. I was stressed, not in a good way. I don't know how it snuck up on me, but I wasn't that happy and Saturday was the peak, it was hard to get out and work. I felt physically and spiritually weighed down and I didn't know why. I was also so tired. So so so exhausted, taking a nap at lunch time just to make it through the day... Missionary work is tiring but shouldn't be like that. I felt unsuccessful, worried, and ... yeah. Sunday was a miracle, I fasted and during studies turned to "Adjusting to Missionary Life",[in Preach My Gospel] it was then that I realized I was at like orange level of stress, which is NOT good. I read about stress and different ways to reduce it, and after just reading about it I felt so much better. During sacrament meeting also I felt this burden lighten and... it was almost like my heart had been tightly holding onto something and it loosened its grip. Honestly, freeing is how it felt.
Prayer and the Atonement truly can save us. I'm learning afflictions aren't always outside forces, but sometimes it's internal and self induced... but Christ is there. Really, I can't describe the feeling of release I felt sitting in sacrament meeting, praying and giving Christ that burden, that stress, that weakness. It was humbling too to realize I had a problem, that everything wasn't okay, and that (I know this sounds silly) I can't do this, I, myself, can't be a missionary, but when I rely on Christ, I can. When I let Him be on control, and have faith that when things happen (that are outside of my control), HE has it all taken care of. I'm still learning and I'm sure it'll take a bit to get fully back on track, but I feel full of hope and love again. I have certain things I'll do daily and write and sing and remember... I'm happy again, and singing too :)
Wow, I love being on a mission and my journey to become a loving, faithful, Preach My Gospel-missionary. It's a long road, and this journey has bumps and hills that I may not expect, but I'm learning what it means to rely on Christ, to let Him guide me. I'm learning how amazing the Book of Mormon is... this book of application, really. I feel like the Bible teaches a lot of doctrine and really, in the Book of Mormon you can see the consequences of obeying or disobeying the gospel and commandments. I've come from (in high school) feeling pressure and guilty a little for not reading at least a verse everyday to (now) reading and absorbing things from it for an hour and still thirsting for more. I hope one day you can feel that same desire, because it is a desire that will ALWAYS be satisfied through reading. I love being here, especially in Taiwan. Everyday I feel like I think, "oh, yep, that's why I needed to come here." Everyone is sent to the place the Lord knows can help them become who He knows they can be... also I've realized I'm here to serve the people here. I know, that sounds so basic, but I'm kind of understanding what that means.
I love this work and the trials and the miracles and the heat and the sweat (you just sweat all the time... standing, sitting, but biking is the best because you get a breeze :D) and the rain, and the Chinese, and especially Christ. I love you all and am so grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord, but more, to learn who He is and His role in my life. Love it!
Love, Sister Smith